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Friday, December 14, 2012

eCharta: A new Buying & Selling Marketplace for Stamp Collectors

It's no secret that everyone who starts something new generally believes they have "the greatest idea EVER!"

At the very least, they believe that "something needs to be changed," and have enough conviction to set things in motion.

Sadly, most such ideas fail to live up to expectations. It's something we see in all walks of life... from people convinced "they can sing" who then try out for American Idol... where they sound like a distressed seal sitting in an empty oil drum... to the people who start web sites as "alternatives to eBay."

In stamp collecting circles, it's also no secret that many people-- on both the buying AND selling side of the equation are frustrated with eBay. There are a number of reasons for this which I have written about previously, but won't get into here.

eCharta: an authentic alternative to eBay?
95% of new attempts at creating "a philatelic alternative to eBay" are ill-conceived efforts, typically started by a disgruntled former eBay seller who left the giant auction site to "register their disgust" against high fees. Subsequently, most such projects are started by this individual who gets his (or her) hands on some "canned" e-commerce & auction software and then sets up shop, almost exclusively based on the selling point "NO HIGH EBAY FEES HERE!!!"

Three months later, 17 people have signed up, 372 items have been listed for sale (350 of them belonging to the site owner) and none have been sold. Six months later, our "intrepid fee refugee" feels genuinely surprised (and possibly hurt) that people haven't arrived in droves to take advantage of "FREE LISTINGS!!!" Alas, there's a LOT more to running a successful e-commerce site than merely starting one and plastering the word "FREE" everywhere.

Today's post is about a new collector marketplace that genuinely could become a viable "alternative to eBay."

Started in the fall of 2012, eCharta is a marketplace for paper collectibles, not just stamps. Whereas stamps are a major category, you can also find manuscripts, trading cards, postcards, maps and other things relating to collecting paper. UNlike most "eBay alt" attempts, eCharta has a lot of points going in its favor:

  • It's owned and operated by a team of collectors.
  • The site was built from the ground up by professional programmers.
  • It's visually appealing and showcases items for sale in an attractive manner.
  • Free to low fees for sellers.
  • Easy listing process when selling.
  • Auction OR fixed price.
  • Create your own "store" with your own custom categories.
  • Fast and responsive support-- the site operators actually WANT user suggestions.
  • A "mission statement" above and beyond "we're cheaper than eBay."
Even though the site has only been up and "officially" running to the general public since mid-November, there are already close to 5000 items listed for sale (1750+ of them stamps). Just for grins, I put a few items out for sale... and much to my surprise, some of them have already sold. That's almost unheard of, on new sites like this. The link (above) takes you to my "shop" on the site, which will also give you an impression of site appearance, if your "thing" is stamps!

I'm not one to freely (or frequently) recommend web sites and online marketplaces... in fact, I choose to not recommend most places, but his time I'm making an exception to suggest that you should go check this out, sign up and become part of this growing community.

Many in the philatelic world claim they wish there were "real alternatives" to eBay... yet they expect "other people" to make the changes happen, before they'll participate. But that's not how change happens. Change happens because because people get involved in making change happen. I like the people who started this site, I like their concept, and I like the way they've executed it. 

Be PART of a movement to create a genuine eBay alternative!

(and no, nobody paid me to write this... nor do I get anything if you register on the site... this is based 100% on my own experience over the past three weeks. )

1 comment:

Ian - Norvic said...

Interesting - it would be even better if they had their 'about us' information on their home page instead of through a small link at the foot of the home page. Much better if they want to attract custom.